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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The resolution to provide free feminine hygiene products has the support of 24 board members, but only needs 19 to pass. 

Dane County plans to provide free tampons, pads

A pilot program that would provide free feminine hygiene products in Dane County is set to be approved Thursday.

When passed, the county program set to begin in 2016 will provide free tampons and pads in eight locations where low-income or homeless women would most benefit from access. The program, developed by Dane County Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, District 2, was first created after she read about a similar initiative taking place in New York City.

“Last year we had an advance to put money in the budget to set up private lactation rooms in county buildings,” Wegleitner said. “And it made me realize that we can use these buildings in a multitude of ways to make women’s lives easier.”

Because feminine hygiene products are not covered by FoodShare benefits, many low-income or homeless women find it difficult to purchase feminine hygiene products.

The resolution has the support of 24 board members, and only requires 19 votes to pass. Wegleitner said she introduced the proposal with several co-sponsors, with only one representative disapproving of this addition to the budget.

“When I brought up the idea to several female supervisors, they said ‘Heck yeah!’” Weigleitner said. “This is a no-brainer.”

The plan follows an effort by state Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, to require all publicly funded school and state buildings to supply feminine hygiene products free of charge to students and visitors. The bill received no support from Republicans and will likely not pass for 2016.

Wegleitner said she believes Sargent was unable to pass this bill because of the current political climate.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of legislators who haven’t learned how to empathize with others,” she said.

Wegleitner noted the issue requires that male legislators understand the experiences of women.

“If you don’t trust that this is a challenge for women, you won’t be able to understand what an impact it can make in their lives,” Wegleitner said.

If the resolution is successful, Weigleitner and her co-sponsors said they plan to expand to other places in the future, including the public library and the homeless day center currently being renovated on East Washington Avenue.

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